Falling Leaves, Rising Spirits: Celebrate Autumn in National Parks

Top Three National Parks in the Fall

The fall season brings a certain magic to our lives. From the weather starting to cool down from the hot summer months, bringing in a crisp breeze, to the wondrous color change in the leaves. There is nothing quite like being outdoors in this window of time, where it is not too hot and not too cold, that just feels like perfection. You mix all those feelings and place yourself in some of our incredible national parks…well it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Below are some of the top national parks to visit in the fall. Where you can experience activities specific to this season and destination, as well as year round fun that you just simply want to take advantage of in the fall.

Leaf Peeping in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite speaks for itself in just a few images captured during the fall season. With the endless breathtaking trees changing color, to the granite cliffs and waterfalls that sit in the middle of it all getting illuminated by the foliage, it will be a trip for the books. Break out your camera and take a stroll through one of the many hiking trails and paths that the park has to offer.

Fall leaf peeping is a popular activity in Yosemite, and there are a few top locations via hiking trails and paths that your camera lens must see!

  • Big Trees Loop Trail: This trail is located in Mariposa Grove and is labeled an easy .3 mile hike that is wheelchair accessible. You will walk through giant sequoias and get to visit the Fallen Monarch which is over 300 years old.
  • Cook’s Meadow Loop: An easy trail that takes you 1 mile to picturesque views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome from the meadows below.
  • Four-Mile Trail: A more challenging hike of the trails offered, but definitely worth the trek with stunning views of the valley through different elevations as you walk through the foliage.

Where to Stay: Yosemite Valley Lodge

Perfectly located as a base camp for all activities in Yosemite, Yosemite Valley Lodge provides a comfortable and enchanting stay. They offer 245 rooms, including ADA accessible options, with a variety of room types.

  • Traditional Rooms: With views of the mountains and trees, the traditional rooms provide a beautiful view to wake up to in the fall. The traditional room types range from 2 double beds, 1 king size bed, or 1 queen size bed. These rooms are much like your traditional city hotel rooms, but nestled into nature.
  • Family Rooms: Yosemite Valley Lodge offers 4 family rooms that include a king size bed, bunk bed, and sofa. There is also a dining room, large TV and a DVD player in each room, making this the perfect option to bring the kids!
  • Bunk Rooms: Each bunk room is made up of a queen size bed and a bunk bed so you and a few friends could make this the perfect getaway for the weekend.

Where to Eat: The Mountain Room

The floor to ceiling windows and stunning views of the waterfall are just the cherry on top to the great food that the chefs provide at The Mountain Room. Open daily from 5pm-10pm, it is the perfect way to end a fall filled foliage day. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time to guarantee a table with a view for dinner. After you sit down for dinner, bring the kids over to The Mountain Room Lounge and grab a cocktail while the kids roast a marshmallow or two over the fireplace.

Mule Rides in Grand Canyon National Park

Located in the Arizona desert, temperatures start to fall in the Grand Canyon come autumn, making these months some of the best times to visit. After peak tourist season in the summer, the crowds start to die down, creating more room for you to explore the canyon. The milder temperatures, low level of crowds, and color changes, provide the perfect environment for hiking along the rim, photographing the canyon, and just relaxing and taking in the vast scenery.

There are a ton of great hiking trails to choose from at the Grand Canyon, such as The Bright Angel Point Trail that is just a small walk from the Grand Canyon Lodge. If you want a more out of the box, unique option, you should try one of the three mule trips offered. Fall is the perfect time to learn about the history of the canyon, with great weather, while taking the same mode of transportation that President Theodore Roosevelt took. There is a one hour ride and a three hour ride offered along the rim, or you can venture down into the canyon on a three hour ride to Supai Tunnel!

Where to Stay: Grand Canyon Lodge

The two options of rooms at the Grand Canyon Lodge are ideal if you are planning a family vacation or a couples getaway. With three different types and sizes of cabins offered at the lodge, you are guaranteed to be staying between the trees or even with a canyon rim view. If you prefer more of a traditional stay, the motel rooms are a great option with each one including a queen bed and bathroom and the option of a rollaway bed.

Where to Eat: Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room

One of the truly best restaurants out of our iconic dining rooms, the Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room is like no other. Sitting on the north rim of the canyon with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the national park, not only does it offer breathtaking views but the chef’s provide a one of a kind experience. The culinary team offers gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options on the menu, with locally sourced ingredients, making this a top stop on your trip.

Wildlife Watching Denali National Park

Widely known as the “crown jewel of the north”, Denali National Park and Preserve is in central Alaska, north of Anchorage and south of Fairbanks. As the peak tourist season comes to an end and the shoulder season between summer and winter begins, Denali National Park becomes a stunning destination for the fall season. For all wildlife enthusiasts, look no further than this park during the fall, as the animals are out and about preparing for the winter months to come. The diverse range of animals is incredible, you might be lucky enough to spot a grizzly bear, moose, golden eagle, and lots of Dall sheep.

Where to Stay: The Cabins at Denali Park Village

An ideal location surrounded by spruce trees and the Nenana River, and just a walk away from the Denali Park Village, staying in the cabins is a must. The rustic charm and cozy amenities create an environment to connect with nature. These cabins are also a great location to be able to spot wildlife from your porch. Your chances of seeing caribou roaming or birds flying overhead are pretty high with the scenic views overlooking the river.

Where to Eat: Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre

After a fun filled day spotting wildlife and traveling around the park, take a seat and enjoy dinner and a show! The Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre is perfect for the whole family to go back in time to the early 1900’s in Alaska while scarfing down an all-you-can-eat family style meal. Advanced reservations are required and you don’t want to miss this unforgettable night that the kids will remember forever.

Don’t Miss The Leaves Falling

There are so many great options for your next trip to the national parks this fall. Venturing out of the city and into the parks during the fall creates an opportunity to see nature come alive with colors as it transitions into winter. Make sure to plan ahead and reserve some of the unique experiences, such as the Total Eclipse, that the parks have to offer that will create incredible memories for the whole family!

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